I’m not a big punk – rap fan, but this song really does it for me, even to this day. Give It Away was released six days before Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, as the lead single from their Blood Sugar Sex Magik album and reached number 1 on the Billboard charts. Their tour for the album in 1991 was opened by Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins who were also both growing to start at the same time.
Guitarist John Frusciante and bassist Flea wrote much of Give It Away during jam sessions in the early 1990s. Vocalist Anthony Kiedis wrote the song’s most prevalent lyrical refrain in response to an experience he shared with former girlfriend. Upon hearing the rest of the Chili Peppers play the song he began chanting “give it away, give it away, give it away now“. The phrase had been something the vocalist intended to incorporate into a song for the band’s new record, but it was not until he heard the bassline that the lyrics fit.
I can’t tell if I’m a kingpin or a pauper
Greedy little people in a sea of distress
Keep your more to receive your less
Unimpressed by material excess
Love is free love me say hell yes
I’m a low brow but I rock a little know how
No time for the piggies or the hoosegow
Get smart get down with the pow wow
Never been a better time than right now
In the same year the Red Hot Chili Peppers made an unexpected, but striking appearance in the blockbuster film – Point Break as a surfer-gang suspected of bank robberies. Give It Away went on to receive numerous accolades, including a Grammy Award for the Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocals in 1992 and has become one of the band’s most instantly recognisable songs.